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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Legislative Priorities & Policies
Certificate of Public Need Reform Chamber Legislative Position
WHEREAS, Virginia’s certificate of public need program (COPN) was put in place in 1973 and has seen very few changes despite a vastly different healthcare climate in today’s society; and
WHEREAS, Virginia’s COPN program can serve as a useful tool in improving patient access and delivery of healthcare with significant reform;
Whereas, the current COPN process doesn’t have the flexibility to accommodate the quickly changing needs of the healthcare community in regards to implementation of the Affordable Care Act which has led to quickly changing regulations and reimbursement schedules that add a level of greater risk and difficulty in strategic planning and business execution; and
Whereas, the current COPN process is costly, time-consuming, and directs much-needed resources away from patient care and into bureaucratic red tape; and
Whereas, expanding access to health care throughout the Commonwealth, but especially in rural and underserved areas, is a priority of the business community;
Therefore, the Chamber supports the preservation of certificate of public need but with significant reforms to streamline and update the current statute to reflect the modern healthcare climate.
WHEREAS, expanded access to healthcare options for all segments of the population will help control costs and improve quality;
WHEREAS, a hospital emergency room is the least appropriate and most expensive place to provide routine access to care;
WHEREAS, many Virginians still lack access to quality, affordable healthcare;
THEREFORE, the Chamber supports implementing Medicaid reform and expansion to help reduce cost shifting onto insured patients and employers for the cost of treating the uninsured.
WHEREAS the cost of Worker’s Compensation Insurance to employers continues to increase at unsustainable rates for Virginia employers,
WHEREAS the current system has substantial variability in rates charged for similar cases,
WHEREAS carrying Worker’s Compensation Insurance is a state requirement,
WHEREAS employers have no direct agreement with service providers,
THEREFORE, the Chamber supports the establishment of a rate schedule for service providers in Worker’s Compensation cases that is fair and equitable to all parties concerned.
We acknowledge that high-quality early childhood education and development leads to a more skilled workforce, more employment opportunities, higher earnings, and greater economic growth and vitality for our region.
Early Childhood Education
The Chamber promotes the strengthening of early education and school readiness services for young children and their families, including access to Virginia’s Pre-K program that serves low-income, four-year-old children.
We support broad community awareness to expand early childhood education and a system to inform parents of the quality of specific early education providers by supporting the Virginia Star Quality initiative.
We acknowledge that high-quality early childhood education and development leads to higher earnings, more employment opportunities, an increase in family-owned businesses and economic growth and vitality in our region.
Public Education System
The Chamber believes that a strong education system that contributes to the availability of a technically skilled and trained workforce is vital to our area’s future prosperity and quality of life.
To realize such a quality in our schools, the Chamber supports the following:
- Continued local control of schools through locally elected or appointed school boards
- Facilitating the active involvement of businesses and business people in the administrative, teaching and enrichment activities of schools and on state and local boards, policymaking bodies and advisory groups.
- Ensuring students at all education levels have an appropriate understanding of the career options available to them and how to prepare for them.
- Continue support of science, technology, engineering, math and health (STEM-H) programs.
- The Chamber advocates strong state support for its technical schools, colleges, and universities to ensure a highly skilled workforce to meet the employment demands of the regional economy.
The Chamber supports comprehensive solutions using multiple modes of transportation in the most effective configuration including roads, rail and mass transit. It is also essential that the Commonwealth take full advantage of new technologies, telecommuting, and other innovative tools.
- We encourage the General Assembly to continue to develop and evaluate long-range, sustainable funding plans dedicated to transportation to include user fees, toll roads, and private-sector investment in roads, commuter rail, and mass transit.
- We support initiatives that develop regional transportation pilot projects using appropriate funding formulas.
- The planning, construction, and maintenance of an improved statewide multi-modal transportation system that is need-based, cohesive, integrated and interconnected.
The Chamber believes that the area Department of Defense bases and their hosted activities constitute a significant economic engine for the region. The Chamber supports efforts to protect and maintain area bases by mitigating the effects of potential Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and/or legislative actions, encouraging partnerships between the area bases and surrounding business communities and encouraging research and development activities and studies on area bases.
- The Chamber recommends state licensing authorities to recognize and give credit for equivalent military training and credentials for state licensing purposes.
The Chamber supports measures to reduce the burden of excessive litigation and to improve our competitive position in world markets. Accordingly, the Chamber supports the retention of the current statutory cap on punitive damages and the current criteria for being awarded punitive damages.
The Chamber supports the creation of a comprehensive plan with a focus on consistent and reliable information on health care activity and promoting research on the drivers of escalating health care costs.
- Rising health care costs are restricting economic growth.
- Fraud costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Minimizing fraud and abuse could contribute to stabilizing health care costs.
The Chamber supports programs and policies that foster an expansion of economic development resulting in the creation of jobs and wealth through the growth of existing companies and the attraction of new business activity.
The Chamber supports a balanced approach to identify and reform regulatory barriers to economic growth while keeping in place an appropriate framework to safeguard the public, Virginia’s infrastructure, and abundant natural resources.
The Chamber supports continued funding at current levels for proposals that foster the following:
- Strong and persistent advocacy for well-funded, cohesive and aggressive economic development efforts – including continued investment in tourism – that strengthen the overall economy; reduce business taxes and excessive regulation; reduce the cost and increase the availability of healthcare; attract and retain a quality workforce, and position local businesses to better compete in a global economy.
- Increased investments in technology and innovation with the recognition that a skilled, trainable and technically competent labor force is the most persuasive relocation factor sought by industry today
- Promoting business ownership and entrepreneurship.
The Chamber recognizes the importance of philanthropic organizations to community quality of life. The Chamber supports policy initiatives, incentives, and regulations which promote a culture of charitable contributions and volunteer engagement, to support the work of local philanthropic organizations.
The Chamber supports reasonable and fair regulations that promote a balance between economic growth, protection of private property rights and stewardship of the environment.
- Opposes excessive regulations that restrict the availability of energy sources, resulting in higher costs on consumers, businesses and individuals.
- Supports adequate resources for Virginia’s environmental regulatory agencies
- Supports managing environmental programs in a responsible manner and focus on issues that can be controlled by Virginia.
- Promotes a balance between appropriate government oversight and permitting with economic expansion and commerce.
Government should carefully analyze the services it provides and, whenever feasible, devolve those functions to private industry.
Income Tax Predictability
For so long as Virginia imposes an income tax based on the federal income tax, the Chamber supports efforts between the Department of Taxation, the Legislature and the business community to implement a system of conforming the Virginia income tax with the Internal Revenue Code (with exceptions as appropriate) in advance of any tax year in order to permit businesses the opportunity to consider, budget, and otherwise prepare for compliance with the tax laws of the Commonwealth.
Business Professional Occupational License Tax (BPOL)
The Chamber continues to oppose the BPOL tax.
Property Tax Authority
The Chamber opposes any effort to amend Virginia’s Constitution to permit localities to establish a classification system for real property allowing for different tax rates or assessment ratios for residential and commercial/industrial property, or caps on assessment growth.
Technology, Research and Development
- Continuation of Virginia’s capacity for R&D and facilitation of new partnerships between the private sector and Virginia’s research universities in conducting and commercializing basic research, applied research and development, and university-developed intellectual property.
- Develop programs that inform and encourage non- college bound students to earn technology-related certifications in areas critical to the continued growth of Virginia’s technology industry. Provide financial and other incentives for schools and technology companies to participate in these programs.
- Promote the expanded use of private-sector expertise in addressing the technology needs of state government.
- Promote creative solutions to increasing broadband access as it plays a key role in education and economic development.
The Chamber strongly supports the employment-at-will doctrine and opposes efforts to repeal, weaken, or modify it.
The Chamber supports the Commonwealth’s “right-to-work” law and opposes efforts to repeal, weaken, or modify it.
The Chamber believes that workforce training programs and the availability of technically skilled people are vital to the Fredericksburg Region’s future prosperity and quality of life.
The Chamber also recognizes the critical responsibility of business and industry to ensure that schools and workforce training programs are of the highest quality. The Chamber is committed to providing leadership for business cooperation with our educational institutions and those that provide workforce training services by communicating needs and expectations and by sharing resources.
The Chamber recognizes that the availability of a technically skilled, trainable labor forces is the most persuasive location factor sought by business today and seeks to establish programs and policies that will achieve such a workforce across the state.
In so doing the Chamber supports:
- Continued development in the Virginia Community College System of centers of excellence that build on Virginia’s basic industrial advantages.
- Coordination of the Commonwealth’s workforce development system to optimize understanding and access for both potential employees and employers.
- A multi-faceted approach to workforce development involving K-12, vocational and proprietary schools, apprenticeship programs, and public and private two- and four-years institutions, which could include certification of general workplace readiness and certification of specific skills and competencies.
The Chamber recognizes the important role that securing affordable, quality housing plays in retaining a stable workforce. The Chamber supports efforts to increase housing availability and choice by encouraging mixed-use developments, reducing the regulatory red tape to rehabilitate older housing stock, and implementing market-driven and incentive-based tools to manage growth.